October 28, 2006


SHOOTING YOUR FANS -- and yourself -- in the foot.

I MENTIONED THE RETIEF STORIES EARLIER, but via Scalzi I see that you can get them for free via the Baen Free Library. I prefer books to downloads, even free downloads, but you can't complain about free.

MICHAEL DEMMONS thinks that Karl Rove is right about Republican prospects in November: "Rove is good at this kind of thing. I very much hope he’s wrong. But, if anything, I’m going out on a limb and saying that his skepticism of the nation polls is factoring into my predictions. I think it’s going to be extremely close. The race for the House will go either way. Rove is no idiot. If he says Republicans are going to win, you’d better take him seriously."

Democrats had better hope that movie box offices aren't a predictor . . . .

A MICHAEL STEELE STEM CELL AD that's pretty hard-hitting. (Via The Captain.)

TOM SMITH: "Is there anything wrong with spending gobs of money on yourself?"

UPDATE: In a classic blog-fallacy, Sloppy Thoughts thinks I'm approving Smith's analysis by linking it. Er, no -- surely anyone who reads InstaPundit much would know me better than that!

Just to be clear, though, the answer to Tom's question is "no." And, furthermore, there's nothing wrong with other people spending gobs of money on me, either! Just in case Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos or somebody is wondering about that . . . .

ASTROTURFING THE MILITARY: The Mudville Gazette notes another bogus antiwar story:

As of this writing, over 200 newspapers have carried the story; The Boston Globe, al-Jazeera, The Washington Post, ABC News, Reuters, The (UK) Guardian... but none of the stories acknowledge the orchestration of the event by Fenton Communications.

If Wal-Mart were behind this, they'd be calling it disgraceful and manipulative.

MUCH MORE on the Duke rape case here. And just keep scrolling.

THE INSTAWIFE IS LOOKING FOR ADVICE on Seasonal Affective Disorder.

IN THE MAIL: An alt-history thriller novel by blogosphere legend Arthur Chrenkoff, Night Trains. At the moment, Amazon's pairing it with Mark Steyn's America Alone, which ought to help his sales even though Steyn's book is nonfiction. Er, it's nonfiction unless we're lucky . . . .

LOADS OF INTERESTING STUFF over at Tom Maguire's place. Just keep scrolling.

THINGS ARE HEATING UP IN OAXACA: Pajamas Media has a roundup on developments.

NOSTALGIA for Western Electric telephones.

I wish I had one. I was doing a radio interview with the CBC once while visiting my brother's and they didn't like the sound quality. My brother dug out an old Western Electric phone from the closet, plugged it in (via an adapter that turned its 4-prong plug into an RJ11) and the CBC engineer exclaimed "You sound wonderful! How did you do that?"


"What happens when a film studio and a fanbase get into bed? Fans of Joss Whedon's Firefly, and the movie by Universal Studios — Serenity — are not amused. After being encouraged to viral market Serenity, the studio has started legal action against fans (demanding $9000 in retroactive licensing fees in one case and demanding fan promotion stop), and going after Cafepress. The fans response? Retroactively invoice Universal for their services."

This, of course, poisons the viral-marketing well for Universal Studios in perpetuity. Nobody will cooperate the way Firefly fans did, now that this has happened. Naturally, people have the right to protect their trademarks -- but when you do viral marketing you also have to relax on that a bit. The Serenity PR people sent me lots of images and art, with the obvious expectation that I'd use them in publicity. When you do that sort of thing, it filters out. This was a bad time to lawyer up. Plus, it violates an important rule of the Internet: "Don't annoy someone who has more spare time than you do."

Joss Whedon's attitude seems more sensible. Viral marketing works both ways . . . .


UPDATE: Heh. "Yes, politics does certainly make for strange bedfellows."

THIS ISN'T VERY IMPRESSIVE: "The district attorney prosecuting three Duke lacrosse players accused of raping a woman at a team party said during a court hearing Friday that he still hasn't interviewed the accuser about the facts of the case."

UPDATE: Reader John Bell emails:

I was a prosecutor for sixteen years before heading out into private practice. From my experience, Nifong is in an awkward position here in regards to interviewing the victim. From what little I have followed on this case, she looks like the kind of victim who has trouble telling the same story the same way twice in a row. The more versions she gives the weaker Nifong’s case. If he interviews her and she strays from previous versions of her story, he generates exculpatory material which goes straight to the defense. If he doesn’t interview her, he looks incompetent. If he does a thorough interview, he runs into all her prior contradictory statements and then has to decide which version of events is the “official” one, boxing him in before trial. Nifong, as I said, is in a bad position, but then, he has no one to blame but himself.

Indeed. And it's getting worse:

A woman identified as the accuser in the Duke lacrosse rape case performed an athletic pole dance at a Hillsborough strip club at the same time that the accuser was visiting hospitals complaining of intense pain from being assaulted.

A time-stamped video shows a woman at The Platinum Club on March 26. The club's former security manager, H.P. Thomas, identified her as the accuser.

The video, reviewed by The News & Observer, shows a limber performer. The same woman told doctors at UNC and Duke hospitals around that time that she had been beaten and assaulted and was racked with pain.

This case is looking more and more pathetic.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader John Schedler emails:

OK, it has been nearly 30 years since I did my short stint as a prosecutor. But, I am still perplexed at the notion Nifong is in a "bad position." It is only "bad" if the objective truth and justice to the parties is irrelevant to your thinking.

As I understand it, the duty of the prosecutor is to do justice, prosecuting crimes being the principle means to that end. One cannot ascertain just how justice will be served unless and until one has the facts in hand. A prosecutor doing his or her duty would interview the complainant & get to the bottom of the matter. If the allegations hold up, then he or she can assess how justice would be served by prosecution. If the allegations collapse under investigation, then justice admits of only one course: dismissal.

Avoiding the facts and leaving innocent people hanging out is, in my view, a disgraceful abdication of duty.


I FINISHED JOHN SCALZI'S NEW BOOK, The Android's Dream last night. I thought it was quite good, though it was nothing like Old Man's War or Ghost Brigades, it was more lighthearted and focused on interstellar diplomacy. Not quite in the vein of Keith Laumer's Retief stories, but occasionally I got a bit of that feel.

We did a podcast interview with Scalzi a while back: It's here.



Like so many other people involved in politics these days, Mrs. Ryun has become obsessive about using hand sanitizer and ensuring that others do, too. She squirted Purell, the antiseptic goop of choice on the stump and self-proclaimed killer of “99.99 percent of most common germs that may cause illness,” on people lined up to meet Vice President Dick Cheney this month at a fund-raiser in Topeka.

When Mr. Cheney was done meeting and greeting, he, too, rubbed his hands vigorously with the stuff, dispensed in dollops by an aide when the vice president was out of public view.

That has become routine in this peak season of handshaking, practiced by everyone from the most powerful leaders to the lowliest hopefuls. Politics is personal at all levels, and germs do not discriminate. Like chicken dinners and lobbyists, they afflict Democrats and Republicans alike. It would be difficult to find an entourage that does not have at least one aide packing Purell.

They're playing catch-up, but at least they're on the story. Meanwhile, according to this unreliable report, Purell has released a new product for politicians -- mouth sanitizer:

While the hand gel is shown to kill 99.9 percent of germs and bacteria which are often spread by human contact, the new mouth sanitizer was formulated to prevent the viral spread of dirty, bitter and vitriolic political speech.

According to a news release from the company, “Just a quick squirt, swish and spit before stepping up to the microphone and Purell Mouth Sanitizer eliminates not only the words that make others sick, but it even protects a politician from speech that can harm one’s own career, thanks to a special ingredient we call Gaffe-B-Gone.”

If only.

UPDATE: More on sanitizer here. And is the Times story above a "rowback" of its hand-sanitizer item about Bush and Obama last week?

VAL MCQUEEN: "In the last few days in Britain, three events have caused what was already a small crack in the paper-thin edifice of 'multiculturalism' in Britain to widen to a noticeable fissure."

MY RELIGIOUS EDUCATION is now many years in the past, but I was never taught that Pontius Pilate was a great moral thinker. Rather, he was portrayed as a man who used superficial doubt as a means of avoiding responsibility.

UPDATE: Frank J. emails: "I hope Pilate is a great moral thinker. He's running for judge in my county." Heh. That's got to be something of a handicap.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Mark Przekwas emails:

If you read Mr. Judge’s original story, in particular the transcript of the conversation, you would notice that just before the Pilate comment Mr. Hewitt is discussing Plato’s Allegory of the Cave – the name Plato being mentioned several times. Now, is it not possible that in Mr. Sullivan’s reply he misspoke and said Pilate instead one Plato – when referencing Plato’s comments on the unveiling of truth in the Allegory of the Cave?

Well, that would make more sense.

MORE: A reader emails:

Yeah,, why would he misspeak and say "Pilate," while meaning to say "Plato," when in fact quoting Pilate?

I said it would make more sense. I didn't say it was likely.

YEAR-ROUND DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME? I'm all for it. Morning sucks regardless, but I like the extra hour of light in the evening. If it saves as much power as a big nuclear plant would generate, well, so much the better.


CAPTAIN ED did a two-part interview with George Allen. Here's part one, and here's part two.

October 27, 2006


IT'S AN HONOR JUST TO BE NOMINATED: Though I think Andie MacDowell would fit the part better than Angelina Jolie.


Watching and reading the recent Washington punditry, whether in print or on television, is a depressing spectacle. Almost all—Charles Krauthammer is the most notable exception—have somehow triangulated on the war, not mentioning why and how in the B.C. days they sort of, kinda, not really called for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. For some the Road to Damascus was the looting or Abu Ghraib, for others the increasing violence. Still more now say the absence of WMD did the trick.

But almost none of the firebrands of 2003 speaks the truth behind the facade: They supported the war when it looked like few casualties and a quick reconstruction and thus confirmation of their own muscular humanitarianism—and then bailed along the way when they realized that wasn’t going to happen and the unpopular war might instead brand them as “war mongers”, “chicken-hawks” or just fools.

Instead of that honest admission, we get instead either cardboard cut-out villains of the “my perfect three-week war, your screwed-up three-year occupation” type—a Douglas Feith, Gen. Sanchez, or Paul Bremmer—or all sorts of unappreciated and untapped brilliance: from trisecting the country to “redeploying” to Kurdistan, or Kuwait, or Okinawa?

Read the whole thing.

ROGER SIMON interviews Tony Blankley.

MARY KATHARINE HAM posts another must-see episode of Ham Nation.

UPDATE: I wonder if Mary Katharine could find the "coded racist messages" in this ad?

Probably -- she's that good!

HERE'S MORE on Knoxville mayor Bill Haslam, and Mike Bloomberg's anti-gun initiative.


AUSTIN BAY has thoughts on Al Qaeda's media war.

DANIEL GROSS: "So the Dow hit 12,000. Big whoop."

Well, it would be a big deal if a Democrat were in the White House. . . .

I do like this line, though: "Only 24,000 points more to Dow 36,000! "

The Amazon reviews for Dow 36,000 are kind of funny, too. Hey, they didn't say when . . . .

UPDATE: More thoughts from Daniel Harrison. He also notes that the NASDAQ is way up.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Rob DeJournett notes that although the NASDAQ is way up over recent years, it's nowhere near its peak. True enough, but as the chart demonstrates, "peak" is really the right word.

ROB HUDDLESTON says that the GOP is "surging," but that seems a bit optimistic to me.

REMEMBERING THE HUNGARIAN REVOLUTION: John Fund reports on an event now 50 years in the past.

JON HENKE, George Allen's campaign blogger, responds to criticism of the Jim Webb novel story in my post this morning by emailing:

Mr. Reynolds,

Something to remember about the Webb/book story -- here's Keith Olbermann talking about the sex scenes in Scooter Libby's book:

"we have beaten the hell out of Libby for this, and deservedly so. If a Democratic White House official had written this book, his head would be on a pike somewhere."

Well, now a Democrat HAS written that kind of book. So it's funny to see how quickly the Democrats have rediscovered the irrelevance of fiction writing. If voters are not bothered by Webb's work, fine....but it's not a 'smear' to cite the public record that Webb himself talks about in commercials, interviews and on his campaign website.

It's true that the Dems have gotten mileage out of steamy Republican novels in the past. Though "steamy" isn't quite the term I'd use here.

UPDATE: Ann Althouse thinks it's stupid to judge a candidate by his fiction writing. Well, if Olbermann does it, that's a strong argument . . . .

Amusing line from Althouse's comments, where there is much interesting discussion:

Republicans who write about sex and murder are depraved, fucked-up sickos who write about grisly repressed fantasies. Democrats who write about sex and murder are artists, flowering the world with beauty and challenging our perceptions.

Christ, don't you people understand how it works?

Yes. Kind of like this: "When Republicans appeal to rural, white, socially conservative voters, they are Neanderthals. When Democrats do it, they are shrewd tacticians." I'm beginning to sense a pattern here!

MORE: Matt Rustler writes:

I hate to break it to you, folks, but the military -- especially the Marine Corps, the service that Webb knows best -- is largely composed of macho young men with foul mouths and an unhealthy obsession with all things sexual. It's a giant locker room. No one who's been in the naval service beyond boot camp -- especially back when Subic Bay was still open -- hasn't heard a story or two about a Filipino stripper dicing a banana with her vagina. . . . I admit that I don't see the point of some of the rather bizarre, homoerotic scenes mentioned in Allen's press release. But they're presented entirely out of context. And I'll bet that if I read those books, I would see the point.

He's voting for Webb, though he was before. I think that Allah captures both sides of this story best, with two passages. First: "Have we actually reached the point where Senate seats now turn on the sex scandals of fictional characters?"

But also: "If George Allen had written this book, not only would the left be going berserk, they’d be circulating lists of characters in his other books whom they suspect of being gay."

Yes, it's that bad.

MORE STILL: Novelist Bill Quick weighs in.

Meanwhile, the DSCC isn't elevating the tone: "GOP Conservatives’ Library Features Bestiality & Pedophilia."

JIM CHEN writes that the New Jersey gay marriage case is just like Loving v. Virginia. I think he's right, which is why I think that it's wrong to call the New Jersey decision a compromise. It's a flat-out win for gay marriage advocates.

AT BLOG WEEK IN REVIEW, Austin Bay and his guests get Kinky -- Friedman, that is.


LASHAWN BARBER is liveblogging from GodBlogCon.

POPULAR MECHANICS lab-tests digital camcorders.

They really liked this Panasonic, which looks like it would be a cool videoblogging tool, too. I have to say, though, that for videoblogging the video capabilities of digital still cameras are looking pretty good. My little Sony pocket camera shoots 640 x 480 30fps video, with shockingly good sound. And I shot all the video for this piece using still pocket cameras -- a Sony and (for the underwater parts) an Olympus.

There's even one that shoots in HD (1280 x 720 pixels). That's overkill for videoblogging, of course, but it's sort of cool.


Maybe I'm racially insensitive, but I don't get the uproar over the ad in which a hot chick says she met Harold E. Ford, the Tennessee Democrat running for the U.S. Senate, at a Playboy party and asks him to call her. A Vanderbilt expert on political advertising says it "makes the Willie Horton ad look like child's play." Really? It's worse for voters to think that beautiful women want to have sex with you that it is for them to believe that you let a dangerous criminal out of prison to commit rape and murder? I think Michael Dukakis would disagree. He could have benefited from this sort of slander, if anyone would have believed it.

I agree. As I've said before, I think the Playboy thing helps Ford more than it hurts him.

UPDATE: Reader Janice Lyons says it's not about the bimbo:

By focusing on the blonde the Dems are either being really really clever, or are really really dumb.

It's the WHOLE AD that has the bang. It is not only hilarious, it's points to Ford's positions (I assume, since I'm not a Volunteer), which when voiced in their implications, are pretty damning.

Perhaps by calling race! sex! - and - gasp! bimbo! they are trying to divert attention from the problem of Ford's positions (the actual content of the ad, not his sex life) with [self righteous] indignation.

Surely more than a few people see the ad, snicker at the blonde, and wonder if Ford really does think they own too many guns, it's no big whoop that the family farm which has now become a developer's (and the tax office's) dream can will be lost to the family because of property and death taxes, that people who produce stability in the society pay higher taxes, that the US should stop trying to slow down the nuclear train to hell, and that people committed to blowing up as many Americans and as many America ideas and things as they can should have the right to be treated as citizens, and better.

That's what the Dems are really worried about. Or should be anyway. That's the message of the ad the Dems are trying to distract from while "whining" about the bare shouldered blonde.

Well, of course, the complaints just caused many, many more people to see the ad. Smart? We'll see.

And I think Dukakis would have picked up at least 3 states if it had come out that he'd partied with Playboy bunnies . . . .


The U.S. Department of Defense is now taking its requests for corrections public through a website known as For the Record (located at Here, the Department of Defense is openly calling for corrections from major media outlets, and even noting when they refuse to publish letters to the editor.

The most recent was this past Tuesday, when the DOD published a letter, that the New York Times refused to run, which contained quotes from five generals (former CENTCOM commander Tommy Franks, current CENTCOM commander John Abizaid, MNF Commander George Casey, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers, as well as his successor, Peter Pace) that rebutted a New York Times editorial. This has been picked up by a number of bloggers who have been able to spread the Pentagon's rebuttal – and the efforts of the New York Times to sweep it under the rug – across the country.

They've got a long way to go on the information-war front, but at least they're getting into the game.

CNN: "Most Americans do not believe the Bush administration has gone too far in restricting civil liberties as part of the war on terror, a new CNN poll released Thursday suggests."

I like Bob Owens' spin: "CNN says Bush failed, America not completely fascist yet."

INTIFADA IN FRANCE: Richard Miniter interviews Paul Belien of Brussels Journal.

IT'S A BLOGFEST: Now Michael Yon is on C-SPAN, following up Virginia Postrel and Sally Satel.

Our podcast interview with Michael Yon is here.


There are hundreds of websites featuring dozens of professionally produced videos of violence against US forces in Iraq. Dubbed with loud monotonal music for an extra creepy effect, at the point of the attack, the filmers usually erupt into cries of "Allahu akbar!"

The US might film its own missions for forensic or debriefing purposes sure, but that is a far cry from reveling in them. So what might motivate someone to be so twisted as to film and celebrate death?

One answer: recruitment. . . .

This mobilization is real. It has tangible impacts. Look no further than what is now being called "the YouTube jihad."

Read the whole thing.

BILL ROGGIO: It's decision time for Maliki.

KIDNEY TALK: Virginia Postrel and Sally Satel will be on C-SPAN's Washington Journal at 8 am Eastern this morning, talking about kidney transplants.

And here's an oped by Sally, and one by Virginia, on the subject, plus a sidebar here.

And we did a podcast interview with Virginia on the subject a while back, too.


After emerging from Friday prayers at Lakemba Mosque today, Sheik al-Hilali was asked by a media pack whether he would quit over a speech in which he said scantily-dressed women invited rape.

"After we clean the world of the White House first,” the sheik said.

Supporters of the sheik cheered and applauded loudly at the comments, which were directed firmly at US President George W Bush.

All sins are pardonable, apparently, so long as one is sufficiently anti-Bush. It's a religion that transcends religious divisions. Bush: A uniter, not a divider!

DIRTY PASSAGES IN JIM WEBB'S NOVELS: Not that big a deal to me -- they're novels -- but I suppose the Foley business has given this sort of thing more resonance than it would otherwise have. That sort of blowback doesn't seem all that unfair, though it's just another indicator of how lame the Webb/Allen race has been ever since Macacagate.

UPDATE: Tom Bevan: "Given that Drudge is currently splashing the details of some bizarre, sexually explicit passages from Jim Webb's books on his site, the first line of this big profile of Webb in today's Washington Post is timely, but probably not helpful: 'James Webb will tell you that he is first a writer, with several best-selling novels to his name.' Oy. . . . It'll be interesting to see how the mainstream media handles this story - if they cover it at all - and how the notoriously prickly Webb responds."

ANOTHER UPDATE: Surprisingly, Imus doesn't like Webb's writing.

MORE: Radley Balko thinks this whole story is unfair to Webb:

This is nothing like Foley. I agree that the Foley attacks were blown out of proportion. But it's also clear that Foley was a sexual predator. Jim Webb was writing about a remote, foreign culture. The two aren't remotely comparable. Nor is it legitimate to say there's some sort of "unseemliness equivalence" between chastising the GOP for Foley, and implying that Webb is a pervert because of passages from his books.

The scene everyone's up in arms about isn't remotely titillating or sexual. It depicts two Americans in an exotic and foreign locale. The penis-kissing incident involves a native man and his son in a remote, rural part of South Asia. It's clearly scene-painting, and both characters are shocked and troubled by it, and return to it later in the book.

The genital-kissing custom, by the way, is fairly common in many parts of the world, including Southeast Asia. It isn't sexual. Yes, it seems odd to Americans (there have been several cases where Asian
adults in America have been prosecuted for it -- none have been upheld, with courts clearly finding the practice customary, not sexual) -- and it seems clear from the book that Webb thinks it's odd, too. It isn't as if he made it up as part of some latent perversion.

It's entirely likely that Webb saw this happen while he was in Vietnam, was struck by it, and is relaying what he saw in the book.

I wasn't suggesting that Webb is some sort of pervert -- as I said, it's a novel -- but only that this would be likely to play badly. I like Webb, and my earlier impression of Allen as a bit of a dim bulb has been amply borne out by this campaign. Nonetheless, when you get down in the mud, as the Webb campaign has certainly done, you get dirty too. And if Imus thinks it's bad, then it's likely to hurt him.

MORE: Reader Brian Wiegand emails:

Radley Balko is mostly right. I interviewed Jim Webb this morning and he said that he saw the genital kissing while he was in Thailand, not Vietnam. As Balko says,it was not at all a sexual act. This story is being grossly misrepresented, much like the story about the noose that used to be in George Allen's law office was. What was that you were saying about getting down in the mud?


MORE THAN 5 YEARS AFTER 9/11, they're still finding human remains at Ground Zero.

October 26, 2006

MICKEY KAUS has further thoughts on the New Jersey gay marriage decision.

MUCH MORE ON VOTER FRAUD IN MISSOURI, which is beginning to get national attention.

JOSH MANCHESTER looks at ten kilotons and the port of Long Beach.

(Via Austin Bay).

RAPED? According to this imam, it's all your fault.


MAJOR JOHN TAMMES has posted his roundup of news from Afghanistan a day early.

HOWARD MORTMAN: "Forget everything you were taught about natural law and the time-space continuum. Is it – shudder — possible for someone named Biden to lose in Delaware?"

MORE ON BILL MOYERS: Rick Byrne of Public Affairs Television sends a letter from Bill Moyers on the Beisner matter, which I had previously mentioned in connection with Bill Moyers' legal threats against a blogger. Click "read more" for Moyers' letter. I'll just note that getting your story out this way is a lot smarter than trying to intimidate bloggers with legal threats, as Moyers has already done. Still, we want to reward people for learning . . . .

And checking the threatened blogger's site for updates I found this.

Read More ?

"SMELLS LIKE . . . victory!"

MORE ON BILL HASLAM, Mike Bloomberg, and gun control.

MICHAEL BAR0NE: Gutenberg is dead.

But as a wise woman once said: "The Colonel is dead, and here we are still enjoying his chicken." Extra points if you can spot the source.

UPDATE: A bunch of readers got this right away (I suspect them of Googling, though that's bad form on questions like this). But reader Tim Tighe was first. It's from this classic motion picture. Beauty, eh?

THE BEATINGS WILL CONTINUE UNTIL MORALE IMPROVES: And here I thought that was just a joke -- but no!

Siberian scientists believe that addiction to alcohol and narcotics, as well as depression, suicidal thoughts and psychosomatic diseases occur when an individual loses his or her interest in life. The absence of the will to live is caused with decreasing production of endorphins - the substance, which is known as the hormone of happiness. If a depressed individual receives a physical punishment, whipping that is, it will stir up endorphin receptors, activate the “production of happiness” and eventually remove depressive feelings.

Russian scientists recommend the following course of the whipping therapy: 30 sessions of 60 whips on the buttocks in every procedure. A group of drug addicts volunteered to test the new method of treatment: the results can be described as good and excellent.

Or maybe they just pretend to feel better so the damn whippings will stop . . . .

IN THE MAIL: Thomas Homer-Dixon's book on disasters and preparedness from a lefty perspective, The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization. It's an interesting example of the kind of lefty apocalypticism I discussed last week, and I wish I'd had a copy when I wrote that piece.

The book draws heavily on Tainter's The Collapse of Complex Societies, which is a terrific book -- though I recall reading it a few years ago and concluding that Tainter's lessons didn't suggest that our society was in particularly great danger. Homer-Dixon feels otherwise. There's also a troubling reference to Stalin-apologist Eric Hobsbawm merely as an "eminent historian" -- talk about a guy who can argue for "the upside of down," -- but overall I think the book's pretty interesting. It's certainly an example of the phenomenon I described in my column:

As with some of the righty books from the 1990s, there's a curious push-pull here: Though these are warnings of catastrophes to come, there's a sense that to some extent those catastrophes involve society getting what it deserves for its sinful ways, perhaps coupled with an opportunity for purification in the wake of the crisis -- with the virtuously prepared having the upper hand, of course.

Worth reading, if this stuff interests you.

KIMBERLY STRASSEL looks at the Ford/Corker race: "The Democratic Party has been aware of its weaknesses on social issues and national defense for years, but with Howard Dean and Nancy Pelosi in charge, it has refused to budge from a liberal stance that resonates mainly in New York and California. Mr. Ford has shown that voters elsewhere will respond to Democrats who aren't afraid to really talk with them--and vote with them--on God and guns."

SayUncle has related thoughts.

NEAL BOORTZ tells how you can help some Marines in Iraq have a Merry Christmas.

ANN ALTHOUSE: "Going to New Jersey to get married sounds like the least cutting-edge thing in the world to do, doesn't it? But throw in the gay and nothing's boring."

THE SECURE FENCE ACT has been signed by the President.

THE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM is that the New Jersey gay marriage decision is good for the Republicans. But the futures markets don't show a lot of movement. What do you think? It's time for another InstaPundit reader poll:

Will the New Jersey Gay Marriage Decision Help the Republicans?
Yes, it will help them substantially.
No, it won't make much difference.
No, it will help the Democrats.
Free polls from

The Glenn and Helen Show: Gov. Mark Warner on Politics, Family, and Not Running for President

Mark Warner looked to be the strongest Democratic contender for President in 2008 except for Hillary Clinton. We'd been slated to interview him when he decided not to run, but we thought that decision was interesting enough in its own right to justify an interview. We talk to Warner about his choice to bow out, about the state of politics today, and about what he'll do next. We also discuss anti-terrorism, the Democrats' problems with flyover country, and the importance of alternative energy, including nuclear power, to address oil pressure and greenhouse emissions. Plus, an interruption by Jimmy Carter!

You can listen to the show directly -- no downloading needed -- by going here and clicking on the gray Flash player. You can download it directly by clicking right here, and you can get a lo-fi version for dialup by clicking here and selecting lo-fi. Better still, you can subscribe via iTunes and get future episodes automatically.

You can see our show archives at too. And, as always, my lovely and talented cohost is taking comments and suggestions.

This podcast is brought to you by -- if you buy a Volvo, tell them we sent you!

Music is by Mobius Dick.

MORE RIOTING IN FRANCE: Gateway Pundit has a roundup, and there's more at No Pasaran! "The most spectacular incident took place at 1AM between Bagnolet and Montreuil. A gang of 10 pistol wielding hooded youths boarded the bus. One of the assailants placed his gun on the side of the bus driver's head and ordered him to get out of his seat. The gang commandeered the bus, drove it a short distance and torched it in an neighboring suburb."

MARY KATHARINE HAM posts a special Halloween edition of Ham Nation. She was born to videoblog!


The exercise was part of a two-day, statewide public-health drill. Called Fluex 06, the drill assumed that a pandemic flu, or a strain for which the public has little protection, was moving through the state.

Local hospitals were full and medical supplies were running low, according to the simulation. State officials declared a mock emergency and ordered the vaccination of as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.

In the Fredericksburg area, health officials participated in the exercise by scheduling a real-life, drive-through flu clinic. Those interested were told to roll down their car windows and roll up their sleeves for a free shot. The state Health Department supplied 400 doses of flu vaccine.

Officials chose the Stafford center for its large parking lot. The Stafford Volunteer Rescue Squad offered one of its bays, and the Stafford Sheriff's Office supplied four officers to help with traffic.

The response surprised just about everyone.

Nice to see that they're preparing.

JUST HEARD HAROLD FORD on the radio with local talk-king Hallerin Hill. Ford was defending his "temperament," which suggests to me that the Corker-confrontation must have hurt them.

On the other hand, when Hill asked him about his girlfriend, Ford quipped, "I don't email little boys." So much for Kaus's theory that the Foley scandal isn't hurting Republicans any more.

RALPH KINNEY BENNETT: "Sometime this week, probably Friday, the last Ford Taurus will be built at the Ford Motor Co.'s Hapeville, Ga., assembly plant."

He has some thoughts on what the Taurus's demise -- or abandonment -- means for Ford and the American car industry.


CHESTER WRITES on the autumn of the patriarch.

A CARBON DIET AT SLATE: But according to the folks at Popular Mechanics, adding extra air to your tires won't help.

UPDATE: Some skeptical comments on the PM experiment at the link.

October 25, 2006


I do not support the decision today reached by the New Jersey Supreme Court regarding gay marriage. I oppose gay marriage, and have voted twice in Congress to amend the United States Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage. This November there's a referendum on the Tennessee ballot to ban same-sex marriage - I am voting for it.

I voted against the Tennessee provision, and would have voted against a Federal constitutional amendment, too. I checked Bob Corker's site but couldn't find anything on this issue.

Meanwhile, note that the GOP seems to be misrepresenting Ford's stance on gay marriage. The Ford campaign seems to have done the same thing to Steve Cohen. Hell, I should have run, just so there'd be somebody who'd say he's for it.

MICHAEL BARONE BLOGS his interview with President Bush.

He's got audio, and he asked Bush about the oil trust idea.

UPDATE: Reader Richard Vermillion emails:

Just thought you'd be interested to know that Steve Forbes pushed the Iraqi Oil Trust idea this morning in his keynote speech at the Better Management Live conference in Las Vegas. In the middle of a talk about innovation in business, he took time out to endorse this "innovative" approach to stabilizing Iraq. Perhaps the idea is gaining momentum....?

Let's hope, though it would have done more good back when it was first suggested.

ANOTHER RECORD HIGH FOR THE DOW: But nobody cares about the economy this year.

UPDATE: Pieter Dorsman thinks the news isn't as good as the Dow records suggest. I can imagine that to be true. But I can't imagine successive Dow records just before an election getting this little attention under a Democratic President . . . .

THE FUTURES MARKETS ARE moving rapidly in Corker's favor on the Tennessee Senate race. Ford's had a less-than-ideal week, but it hasn't been that bad. Is this because of the New Jersey gay marriage decision?

UPDATE: Related thoughts here. And there's no similar movement in the Virginia race, which you'd expect if the NJ ruling were involved.

ANOTHER UPDATE: No similar movement in the New Jersey Senate futures, either. But Hotlineblog reports that the RNC is pumping $5 million dollars into the New Jersey race in response to this decision.

MORE: Hmm. Could this fight with Steve Cohen be the problem for Ford?

It began when state senator Cohen, on a fund-raising trip to Nashville, checked in with members of the Legislative Plaza press corps and delivered himself of some typically outspoken observations about what he — honestly or conveniently or both — saw as the drag on Ford’s senatorial campaign. Cohen saw Representative Ford’s “tremendous attributes” being overshadowed by the candidacy of brother Jake as well as by a speech given by Harold Ford Sr. in which the former congressman not only conflated a Harold Jr. rally with support for second son Jake but attacked Cohen in language that disturbed many who heard or read about it with its religious overtones.

“We’re from a Christian city here,” Ford Sr. had said at one point. “[Jake] doesn’t believe in legalizing marijuana. This man that’s running against Jake wants some sex shops running in downtown Memphis on a Sunday! That’s our religious holiday.”

After remarking on Representative Ford’s “tremendous attributes,” Cohen told his audience of Nashville media, “For him to come this far and to have the effort to overreach, I guess, and to have his younger brother run in the 9th District, I think has hurt his campaign.”

Further, in a reference to Ford Sr.’s out-of-town residences: “The Ford machine used to have a lot of foot soldiers. … The top brass has moved away from the foot soldiers. It’s hard to be in touch with your foot soldiers when you’re on Fisher Island [Miami] or in the Hamptons.”

That prompted a press release in Representative Ford’s name, which said in part: “Now, it appears that state senator Steve Cohen and Mayor Bob Corker are singing from the same Ford family attack hymnal. I know that Bob Corker is attacking my family because he has come up short on ideas and answers in this campaign. I didn’t know that ... Cohen was suffering from the same problem.”

The congressman’s statement also accused Cohen of support for gay marriage, amnesty for illegal immigrants, legalization of marijuana, and “a cut-and-run strategy in Iraq. . . .

“I really think that if Harold Ford Jr. had run with me on a ticket, it would have been a ‘dream team,’” Cohen mused last week in Nashville.

Maybe the futures markets think so, too?

MORE STILL: Michael Silence finds the Ford/Corker race "surreal."

STILL MORE: As of Thursday morning, the markets have rebounded. Go figure.

A HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN STAFFER turns out to be behind the Foley affair website, according to this report. GayPatriot is unhappy: "I think the HRC needs to come clean and fully explain to those of you who give them money exactly what the hell they are up to. This entire matter has put every gay American into a bad light by equating child predators with being gay. The HRC has a responsibility to tell us what they know and when they knew it. They are now directly responsible for the anti-gay atmosphere that has emerged from the scandal that one of their own employees helped launch."

Related thoughts here.

FRANCE PREPARES FOR MUSLIM RIOTS with 50,000 riot police.

GAY MARRIAGE UPHELD IN NEW JERSEY: The Supreme Court of New Jersey rules: "Denying committed same-sex couples the financial and social benefits and privileges given to their married heterosexual counterparts bears no substantial relationship to a legitimate governmental purpose. The Court holds that under the equal protection guarantee of Article I, Paragraph 1 of the New Jersey Constitution, committed same-sex couples must be afforded on equal terms the same rights and benefits enjoyed by opposite-sex couples under the civil marriage statutes."

A copy of the opinion can be found here.

UPDATE: Having (very quickly) skimmed the opinion, it seems the Court is allowing that civil unions might be good enough, so long as they're comparable to marriage in terms of benefits, but it seems to leave open the possibility that only marriage that's called marriage might be good enough.

I agree with the result (that is, I favor gay marriage as a policy matter). The reasoning is okay (based on a cursory reading it seems consistent with this approach), though the 90-page opinion shares a flabbiness with earlier cases like Goodridge. I think, though, that changes like this are better made through legislative than judicial means, and that this may well benefit the Republicans substantially in the coming elections, as people like my reader Steve White who worry about judicial activism are given a new reason to go to the polls and vote for anti-gay-marriage initiatives.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jeff Soyer agrees.

Brendan Loy: "As a proponent of gay marriage, I’m happy with the result. As one who hopes the Democrats take back at least one house of Congress, I am fearful of the backlash. But perhaps the possibility of 'civil unions,' as opposed to 'gay marriage,' will blunt the backlash somewhat."

The opinion allows that something not called "marriage" might be enough, but it pretty clearly leaves open the door to hold otherwise later. And the concurrence/dissent says: "I can find no principled basis, however, on which to distinguish those rights and benefits from the right to the title of marriage, and therefore dissent from the majority’s opinion insofar as it declines to recognize that right among all of the other rights and benefits that will be available to samesex couples in the future."

It thus seems that this isn't really a "third way" approach to gay marriage. This is a clean win for gay marriage advocates, not a partial victory.

MORE: Eugene Volokh has further thoughts, and observes: "this decision, whether you like it or not, seems to be an illustration that the slippery slope is a real phenomenon."

MORE STILL: Dale Carpenter, having reviewed the opinion, says it's an example of how unstable the middle ground is:

New Jersey ran into trouble because, having started down the path to full equality for gay individuals and couples through a variety of state statutes and judicial decisions, the state could not give any good reason why it should continue to differentiate. For example, the court noted, the state has adopted a domestic partnership system that gives gay couples a list of rights also given to married couples. But yet the domestic partnership system does not extend other rights of married couples to these same-sex couples. What’s the basis for granting a select list of the rights but not the others? . . .

The whole case, then, shows how unstable a middle ground can become in the hands of an aggressive court. The slope on that middle ground seems much more slippery for courts, which demand what they regard as principled reasons for any distinction, than it is for legislatures, which may refuse to budge for no reason other than that the votes aren't there to do more or because of simple fiat.

I believe that Justice Scalia has made just that point. Carpenter concludes: "The question then is, having closed the gap with respect to all rights in marriage, what basis could there possibly be not to close the remaining gap with respect to equal status in marriage?" I agree that the "civil union" approach is unlikely to last in light of this decision, which carefully doesn not rule out an equal-status requirement.

VERY INTERESTING DISCUSSION of what we've done wrong in Iraq and what we ought to be doing now -- with the observation that simply getting out would be worse than "a dozen Somalias" -- in a letter from Iraq over at Best of the Web.

AS A SORT OF FOLLOWUP to my column today, here's a piece from Slate on hospital infection control, and how we should be doing more.

MARK HALPERIN ON MEDIA BIAS: Is he the Evan Thomas of this election cycle?

UPDATE: Reader John Kluge emails:

Isn’t the apparent shocking admission of liberal media bias a sign that the media thinks it has done its job and ended Republican control of congress? I seem to remember the same round of mea culpa’s after Clinton’s election in 1992. The media admitted after a Dem was safely ensconced in the Whitehouse that maybe they had been a little too hard on Bush and Reagan and needed to try to be more supportive of the government in the future and less suspicious of the government. Now with the Republican Congress in trouble two weeks before the election we get the NYT admitting it was a mistake to out the NSA funding surveillance and now this admission that maybe the networks are too liberal. To me this just the media seeing that its job is done now trying to reposition itself in the center and salvage a shred of credibility to be used in 2008.

Possibly. Or there may be a less-far-reaching motive for generating all that buzz right about now . . .

A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE BEEN TALKING ABOUT Brooke Allen's new book, Moral Minority: Our Skeptical Founding Fathers. I haven't read it, but George Will has, and he liked it.

Michael and Jana Novak, meanwhile, have a different take.

DAVE SHEARON has thoughts on positive psychology and country music. With a bonus Firefly/Serenity reference.

AUSTIN BAY QUIZZED DONALD RUMSFELD OVER LUNCH yesterday, and has posted a transcript.

And there's much more in his column.

BLOGGING FROM IRAQ, Michael Fumento slams the media:

During my three embeds in Iraq’s vicious Anbar Province, I’ve been mortared and sniped at, and have dodged machine-gun fire — all of which has given me a serious contempt for the rear-echelon reporters. When I appeared on the Al Franken Show in May, after my second embed, it was with former CNN Baghdad bureau chief Jane Arraf — who complained about the dangers of being shot down by a missile while landing in Baghdad, and the dangers of the airport road to the International Zone (IZ) . . . and how awful the Baghdad hotels were. . . .

CBS News cameraman Paul Douglas and freelance soundman James Brolan were blown up by an improvised explosive device (IED) while accompanying CBS correspondent Kimberly Dozier, herself critically injured. They were embedded with the 4th Infantry Division. So were ABC anchorman Bob Woodruff and his cameraman, who were critically injured by an IED. Time correspondent Michael Weisskopf had his hand blown off trying to toss a grenade out of his Humvee when he was embedded with the 1st Armored Division. These, not the hotel-bound credit-claimers, are the journalist-heroes of the Iraq War.

Read the whole thing. (Via Bob Owens who summarizes pithily.)

NEW FRONTIERS IN GERMICIDAL LIVING: In today's TCSDaily column, I look at future developments in public health.

Plus the kickoff to the revolution!

UPDATE: Reader David Handron emails:

I teach at Carnegie Mellon University, and yesterday I noticed that there is a hand sanitizer dispenser at the exit of the computer cluster where I'm teaching this semester.

It seems like a great idea to me, especially since colleges and universities are some of our great unsung incubators of disease. Every few months, we send students all over the country (or world!) to collect all sorts of germs, bring them back together to see what kind of new germs we can breed, and then send them back out into the world again.

Yes, there's always a fresh round of colds, etc., after fall, Christmas, and spring breaks. I suspect that finding places to interrupt the spread of this kind of thing would do a lot of good.

A BAD REVIEW for the latest NRSC anti-James-Webb ad.

UPDATE: Reader David Farkas emails:

Miller is 100% right. The ad was a total loser. It might actually have been the kiss of death for Allen, sorry to say. Being totally honest, if I were a Virginian, I’d vote for Webb because of that ad alone. And there are many like me. I know many people in Newport News (My good friend was the Rabbi there for five years until two months ago, when he moved to Cleveland). They naturally vote GOP, but they certainly care more for the military than a political party. If they heard that Republicans are bashing Webb for defending military culture, or for being against women in the military, they won’t even think twice about supporting him. Glenn, there’s nothing to talk about. Allen can only pray people somehow forget about it.


BARACK OBAMA, a deadly threat to Hillary's plans?

October 24, 2006

MORE CRITICISM of the military's information war efforts, from Greyhawk of The Mudville Gazette.

Much better work is being done for free by milbloggers -- whom the Pentagon is trying to shut down.

TIM BLAIR: "I’m sure one side or the other is winning this dispute ... but neither can agree on the score."

I'll just cheer from the sidelines. Plus, a Palestinian brain-drain.

SO AS A RESULT OF THE JOHN BIRMINGHAM BOOK MENTIONED BELOW, I got an Amazon recommendation for a rather different book, How to Become an Alpha Male.

Er, aren't all bloggers Alphas, by definition? I can't say much about the book, but from looking at the reader reviews I learned that there's such a thing as "the seduction community," described in an entirely un-ironic and unself-conscious sense (more on that here) and that there's good advice to be had on body language:

such as not be hunched over with your eyes cast downward

It's hard to argue with that! Another book I wouldn't have noticed, and another "community" I would have missed, if it weren't for the magic of collaborative filtering -- and its occasional misfires.

SAM VENABLE has a very nice column on Tennessee's anti-gay-marriage amendment. Excerpt:

But no matter how the votes stack up for one candidate over another, there's one facet of the 2006 campaign that historians will study long after we're all in the bone yard:

It's how Tennesseans reacted to the proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

I hope this measure fails. I certainly will vote against it. It's as wrong as those antiquated laws forbidding interracial unions.

It doesn't take a genius to realize this is a hot-button issue politicians dearly love. But that's what I find so intriguing. This proposal oughta be hands-off for die-hard liberals and die-hard conservatives alike.

Liberals should view a ban on gay marriage as mean-spirited and discriminatory. Conservatives should view it as intrusion by the government into citizens' private lives.


UPDATE: Reader Steve Galbraith writes:

You got me on this one. How is not having the government recognize gay marriage as being equivalent to a heterosexual marriage intruding into someone's private life? Who's private life is being affected?

If the government simpy says, "You may marry whomever you want, we just won't recognize it", the state is simply staying out of private matters.

If on the other hand government recognizes same-sex marriage, isn't that bringing a private matter into the public sphere? Isn't it taking a private matter - gay marriage - and having the state regulate that relationship?

I'm essentially agnostic on this issue. Were it up for vote in a statewide referendum, I'd probably vote in favor of it. But it does seem to me that in doing so I would be using state coercion to force those who didn't recognize it as a lawful marriage to do just that.

Recall Berlin's negative and positive liberties. Isn't having the state recognize marriage an example of positive liberty - a dangerous state action - as opposed to a negative action.

Well, ideally I'd take the state out of the marriage business entirely and make it a matter of contract. But if the state is in the business of recognizing marriages I think it needs a good reason to discriminate. That some people say "Yuk" is, as with Leon Kass's concerns about science, not a good enough reason in my opinion.

That said, I think it's a terrible mistake to call those who oppose gay marriage "bigots" and the like, given that the majority of Americans feel that way. I think that attitudes will change with time, and that's why I'm against efforts to lock-in current attitudes.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Steve White emails:

On your post concerning the Tennessee 'anti-gay' marriage amendment: perhaps these amendments wouldn't be so popular, passing with 70 to 75% of the popular vote in states that have had referendums, if the people of said states could trust their courts not to intervene. Given the notoriety attached to states where a district or supreme court has suddenly discovered a right for gays to marry, a fair number of voters may have decided that it is they or their legislators who will make this decision in their states and not their courts, thankyouverymuch.

Well, there has been some judicial activism here, but not that much. And these amendments don't simply restrict change to the legislative realm -- they generally ban it, period.

Meanwhile, reader Phil Connors has lots of unpleasant things to say, and also thinks he's "outing" me:

Is "Helen" an ironic nickname for some guy named Allen?

No, I like football and girls. But somebody could do something with that idea. Take it away, Frank J.!

MORE: And, in fact, Frank J. springs to my defense: "I'd say there's at least a 48% chance that Glenn Reynolds isn't gay, which is good enough to put this rumor to rest."

So there.

MEGAN MCARDLE: "Watching Sky News is weird, because half the news is about America, and half of that is wrong. . . . Maybe tomorrow I'll take in some British actors doing bad impersonations of Americans."

DANNY GLOVER LOOKS AT "The military's love-hate relationship with blogs."

A MODEST civil rights victory in Texas.

STEVE GILLMOR: "YouTube, Digg, and MySpace took out TV a few months back, and now the corpse is sitting up and taking notice."

JAMES WEBB STUMBLES? "His claim to have 'first proposed' an African American figure is made up of whole cloth."

THE NEW YORK TIMES notices what I've been noticing:

In many ways, the economy has not looked so good in a long time.

The price of gas at the pump has tumbled since midsummer. Unemployment has fallen to its lowest level in more than five years. On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average has finally returned to its glory days of the late 1990’s, setting records almost daily. . . .

But Republican candidates do not seem to be getting any traction from the glowing economic statistics with midterm elections just two weeks away.

The economy is virtually nowhere to be found among the campaign ads of embattled Republican incumbents fighting to hold onto their House or Senate seats. Nor is it showing up as a strong weapon in the arsenal of Republican governors defending their jobs from Democrats.

“I don’t know of another election cycle in which the economy was so good, yet the election prospects for the incumbent party looked so bad,” said Frank Luntz, a Republican strategist. “If something goes wrong, Republicans are to blame. If something goes right, Republicans don’t get credit.”

Indeed. And media bias doesn't explain why Republicans aren't talking about the economy. But stupidity might . . . .

UPDATE: Captain Ed sees a pattern here.


Jet Blue wanted to squeeze just a few more working hours out of its pilots but it needed the facts to prove that a change in FAA regulations wouldn't lead to a spate of crashes and flight errors. Its solution? Hook up 50 30 odd pilots to monitoring devices and make them illegally work in excess of FAA protocol in a makeshift clinical trial. Not only does such an experiment violate every ethical law in the book, it also makes hundreds, if not thousands, of passengers unwitting participants in a clinical trial that could possibly end in a fireball on the tarmac.

More here from the Wall Street Journal. (Free link.)

TOM MAGUIRE is mounting an Alcee Hastings watch.

ANDREW SULLIVAN RESPONDS to my earlier post on Ford and Corker: "The difference between the GOP and the Dems on gay issues nationally is vast, as Glenn knows."

Unlike Sullivan, I'm not a "single issue voter" on gay issues. But I wonder if that's true about the Democrats vs. the Republicans. As is widely recognized in the blogosphere, Sullivan has sided with the Democrats over gay marriage. But what has he gotten for that?

John Kerry, who Sullivan supported, isn't for gay marriage: "The president and I have the same position, fundamentally, on gay marriage. We do. Same position." Or, as he said on another occasion: ""I'm against gay marriage, . . . Everybody knows that."

Are there any Democratic candidates in contested races who are pushing gay rights and gay marriage? I can't think of any. Certainly, as I noted before, Harold Ford isn't among them. And Hillary Clinton isn't beyond reproach: "The executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda gay rights group has described Sen. Hillary Clinton as 'a complete disappointment.' . . . Clinton opposes same-sex marriage but supports civil unions between members of the same sex. During her husband's administration, she supported the Defense of Marriage Act."

And it's not the GOP that's circulating a "list" of gay Congressional staffers in the hopes of getting them fired.

As I say, I'm not a single-issue voter on gay rights. But Sullivan clearly is. So what, exactly, are the Democrats actually offering in exchange for his rather vehement loyalty?

More here and here.

And, yes, it does lapse into self-parody. And here's more on Democrats and gay marriage:

In TN and VA, Democrats Ford and Webb say they oppose gay marriage. Webb supports civil unions, though, and he plans to vote against Virginia's so-called "Super-DOMA," which, according to gay rights activists and some legal scholars, would make it harder to establish civil union-type arrangements. Ford supports the Tennessee constitutional amendment. He also supported the FMA in the House.

Not overwhelming evidence of the Democrats' superiority on this issue. Meanwhile, Corker is better on the Second Amendment, at least.

THE INSTAWIFE IS SURFING THE CHANNELS on the Big Media coverage and can't believe how anti-Republican it is.

I'd say they're following The Note's advice!

"I LIKE FOOTBALL AND I LIKE GIRLS:" The Corker campaign sends this video of Harold Ford, but I don't think it's so bad for him.

STEVEN BARNES: "Obama is running great software."

That sounds like the kind of thing people say about me. Only in my case I guess it's the hardware they're complimenting.

IT'S A NEW POLITICAL AD from David Zucker.

PETE DU PONT: "Republicans deserve to lose, but what happens if Democrats win?"

Brendan Loy doesn't care -- like Bill Quick, he belongs to the teach-'em-a-lesson crowd: "I’ll be voting for the Democrat for my local, hotly contested House race. (Heaven help the Democrats if Pelosi breaks her anti-impeachment pledge, because I’m depending on that, and they’ll lose my vote for a long, long time if they’re lying to me.)"


ROB HUDDLESTON writes that national coverage of the Ford / Corker race isn't very good: "Be careful about how much credence you give the national media regarding our race here in Tennessee. Heck, be careful about other states' races, too. They are doing a poor job in covering these races because they don't know what is going on on a daily basis in the states. The national media's inadequacy has been magnified by the rise of the blogs, for sure. That's why they interview bloggers, as a way of catching up on what has been going on in each race." Well, at least they're trying.

UPDATE: RealClearPolitics is on the case.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Sean Braisted has the new Ford campaign ad, and comments: "There in lies the strength of Ford as compared to Corker. When Ford wants a new ad or message out there, he can do it himself relatively quickly and effectively. When Corker needs a message put out there, he needs to get someone (Fred Thompson, Ed Bryant, his Mom) to do it for him. It helps Ford that he is his own best spokesman."

ANN ALTHOUSE: "I detect dissimulation."

IN THE MAIL: Barack Obama's new book, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream. I flipped through it to see if I could find the hand-sanitizer bit, but couldn't.

Plus, a book I ordered for my nephew, John Birmingham and Dirk Flinthart's How to Be a Man, which looks to be chock-full of practical advice. Birmingham is probably better known to the blogosphere as the author of Weapons of Choice (involving the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Hillary Clinton) and Designated Targets, but How to Be a Man isn't science fiction.


Personally, I see journalists at the New York Times first and foremost as fellow citizens with whom I share obligations. The notion that they don’t see me the same way causes me a lot of concern.

In World War II, Ernie Pyle found and publicized flaws in our military — but he did it in the context of supporting the larger war effort. In Vietnam, Joe Galloway spent his first night in the field as a journalist manning a machine gun emplacement.

That’s not what we ought to expect from our media today. We don’t need journalists as cheerleaders (not that Pyle or Galloway ever were) or as combatants. But I do know that a lot of us would feel better about the criticism leveled by the media at things the U.S. is doing if we were sure that — in the event of an ambush by enemies determined to kill some of us — they wouldn’t just see it as a good story.


JOHN PODHORETZ notes that blogs are providing a more nuanced account of the elections than Big Media.

IT'S A NEW POLL: Yesterday I asked how you thought the midterm elections should turn out. Today I'm asking how you think they will turn out. Vote your predictions below:

How do you think the 2006 elections will turn out?
Republicans keep both houses
Republicans keep one, Democrats win another
Democrats win both houses
Free polls from

UPDATE: Okay, with 3000 votes, it's showing 55% expecting the GOP to retain both houses, 39% expecting the GOP to lose one house, and only 6% expecting the Democrats to take both. This seems to take a pretty favorable view of the GOP's prospects, but it'll make an interesting test of John Podhoretz's thesis.

WILL COLLIER reports more crushing of dissent, in Georgia.

CLIMBING THE LADDER, and then pulling it up after her? "B&C Contributing Editor Andrew Tyndall analyzed the first six weeks of Katie Couric’s tenure atop the CBS Evening News and found that woman have gotten fewer assignments. . . . In fact, since Couric’s arrival, women have received 40% fewer assignments than they did under her predecessor, Bob Schieffer."

UPDATE: Evan Thomas says the math doesn't add up, but I think that what's happened is more of the CBS News timeslot is being filled with puffy features by Couric, which Schieffer didn't do.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: "It is difficult in history to find any civilization that asks as much of others as does the contemporary Middle East—and yet so little of itself."

FOUR YEARS AGO: The D.C. snipers. Plus a present day / CNN connection.


UPDATE: I see that he's enjoying some books by A. Bertram Chandler. I'm a big Chandler fan, too, as I've noted before. His books are amusing and I feel some kinship to John Grimes . . . .

ARNOLD KLING: "The conventional wisdom is that we would be better off if politically powerful leaders were less mediocre. Instead, my view is that we would be better off if mediocre political leaders were less powerful."

Unfortunately, the trend seems to be toward both more power and more mediocrity . . . .


What do you call it when the ombudsman of the New York Times admits he made a mistake?

A good start.

New York Times ombudsman Byron Calame has initiated what we can only hope will be a trend in America’s holier-than-thou media -- that overwhelming and influential part of our nation’s news business that feigns objectivity, fairness and interest in our national well-being while relentlessly pursuing partisan and destructively anti-American agendas.

Calame, in the throes of some inexplicable crisis of conscience, has admitted his newspaper was wrong to reveal a secret U.S. government program to monitor bank transactions of terrorists, and that he was not only wrong but hypocritical to defend it. He did not mention hopelessly lacking in perspective, but I’ll get to that.

Read the whole thing.

KEEP OUT THOSE ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS FROM THE SOUTH -- BUILD A FENCE! At least, that seems to be what Mexicans think.

NEO-NEOCON IS OFF for the second al-Durah trial.

PLAYING MARSHALL MCLUHAN at Free Alabamastan. "Notice that none of the other people in the ad are shown from the waist down -- they're not wearing any pants!"


ABC's The Note has a thorough and knowing outline of "How the (liberal) Old Media plans to cover the last two weeks of the election" to try to ensure the GOPs do not regain any initiative. ...All ABC's Halperin & Co. left out, as far as I can see, is Point #13: Bury the news about the Secure Fence Act (if Bush doesn't bury it first!), Point #14: Do not mention the name "Alcee Hastings," and #15: 'Keep Foley Alive!' (though that may no longer be possible, even on NPR).

Plus, continued questions as to what Bush is doing on the fence bill. Seems like an ill-considered straddle to me -- a "low profile" signing ceremony sacrifices the benefit of signing the bill with the pro-fence constituency, but as Kaus notes, it's not as if the Hispanic community won't know he signed it.

October 23, 2006

EUGENE VOLOKH notes some humorous copyright overreach.

BILL QUICK explains why he didn't vote Republican this year by linking this list. An excerpt:

Wild-eyed pork, earmarks, and increasing government size and power.

intentions to put Gonzales and Miers on the Supreme Court.

Failure to engage the strongest enemies of the US, in particular Iran.

Horrible mismanagement of the Iraq occupation.

Passing and signing the Campaign Finance Reform act.

The new trillion dollar entitlement program for Prescription Drugs.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Reading the comments lambasting Bill doesn't make me feel better about the GOP's current situation. I think that the decision whether to vote for the GOP or not is one that reasonable people, even reasonable pro-war people, can differ on, and Bill is definitely on the right side where the war is concerned. And I'll ask a question that I often ask of the lefties -- do you really think this stuff will win people over?


INTERESTING DEVELOPMENTS regarding British media and the war.

GOOD NEWS AND BAD NEWS: "Using human embryonic stem cells, researchers have cured a Parkinson's-like disease in rats. Unfortunately, the Parkinson's cure causes brain tumors."

I favor research using embryonic stem cells, as I don't think we know enough to say what will work -- and research with embryonic cells might well provide insights that would let us use adult stem cells effectively. But I think it's being oversold as something that promises near-term cures, as alas it doesn't.

I like this take on the debate, though:

Because Stem Cells have been politicised left right and sideways.

Right, Embryonic Stem Cells == Baby-killing.

Left, The right want cancer patients to DIE to prove a point.

The research is in the early stages now, and people shouldn't pretend to more certainty than is there.

DEFENSE TECH'S DAVID AXE joins with Michael Yon in saying that the U.S. military is blowing the information war in Iraq.

ANDREW SULLIVAN CRITICIZES ME for not voting for Harold Ford, Jr., saying that a libertarian would have supported him.

But Ford voted for the detainee military commissions bill, which Sullivan regards as anathema. And he took a hard-line stance on immigration. As for spending and pork, which Sullivan also mentions, both Ford and his opponent, Bob Corker, say they support spending reforms, porkbusters, and increased transparency. Ford also supports public display of the ten commandments, a ban on flag burning, and says he's closer to Bush than McCain on military interrogations. I don't understand Andrew's views on what constitutes libertarianism but this wouldn't seem to fit. (According to Wikipedia, Ford also supported a ban on same-sex benefits, and a ban on gay marriage, which makes me wonder what, exactly, makes Andrew so enthusiastic -- Ford's a nice guy, but to suggest that he's more libertarian on the issues is absurd; by Andrew's somewhat overexcitable standards he's a pro-torture, homophobic Christianist!)

As for the "outing" business, I'll admit that Republicans run on opposition to gay marriage, etc. -- but so do Democrats (see John Kerry and Ford, above). And deliberately targeting individuals' sex lives as a form of political blackmail seems to me to be nastier than policy positions with which, alas, most Americans agree.

Unlike Andrew, I've actually paid attention to this race, instead of merely forming phantoms of my own imagining. Which is why I voted as I did. In the meantime, I'll view his comments on politics with increased skepticism, given the ignorance and inattention on display here.

UPDATE: Frank J. prefers the suggestion of reader Brian Gates, below: "An all Frank J. Congress would be awesome! No one could stop me from filibustering!"

I suppose that would be the true libertarian alternative . . . .

DEAN BARNETT: We're still number one!

America’s Jews were the victims of 68.5% of 2005’s religiously motivated hate-crimes. Even though there are a lot less of us than there are Muslims, we incurred almost 7x more hate-crimes than America’s Muslim population in 2005. I am expecting CAIR to send every Jew in America a sympathy card in the very near future.

Me too.


Wall Street extended its October rally Monday as investors grew more optimistic about upcoming earnings reports and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said it will cut capital spending to drive overall returns. The Dow Jones industrials shot up more than 110 points and crossed 12,100 for the first time.

Generally upbeat reports have instilled a new confidence about the future in investors, and allowed them to lay down some bets about the future just half-way through third-quarter earnings season. . . .

Blue chips resumed a three-month rally after stalling Friday; the Dow briefly surpassed 12,100 and reached a new trading high of 12,117.95, eclipsing the old mark of 12,049.51 set last week. Broader market indexes also gained, shrugging off concerns about the Federal Reserve's decision on interest rates later this week.

"The picture being painted is pretty easy to suggest that the pressure on the economy from higher oil prices is easing," said Richard E. Cripps, chief market strategist at Stifel Nicolaus. The price of oil, which fell to lows for the year Friday from its mid-July highs, is making investors more bullish on sectors like retail, which stand to benefit if consumers have more spending money.

In midday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 110.22, or 0.92 percent, to 12,112.59. Blue chips passed 12,000 for the first time last week.

Broader stock indicators also surged. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 8.71, or 0.64 percent, to 1,377.71, and the Nasdaq composite index rose 17.71, or 0.76 percent, to 2,360.01.

I guess "It's the economy, stupid" only applies when the economy is bad. Or something.

PRAISE FOR PORKBUSTERS, and proposals for spending reform, from George Allen at RedState.

TAEGAN GODDARD: "Political Wire has seen early results of a couple new polls that show surging independent or third party candidates while the major party candidates are losing support. In both cases, the trend is broad enough to turn the independent candidate into a spoiler and completely change the dynamics of the race."

Could this be a trend? Given the general level of voter disenchantment, I can imagine that it would be. I had some thoughts on this a few months back. And read this, too.

TAMARA K. reports on a Harold Ford. Jr. visit to the shooting range where she works. "That young man stood next to me for near ten minutes and not once did he ask for my vote."

There's no answer to Randy Neal's question in the comments, though: "But did he shoot a tight group?"

ACCORDING TO THIS REPORT, gun control in Australia hasn't saved any lives:

The report by two Australian academics, published in the British Journal of Criminology, said statistics gathered in the decade since Port Arthur showed gun deaths had been declining well before 1996 and the buyback of more than 600,000 mainly semi-automatic rifles and pump-action shotguns had made no difference in the rate of decline.

The only area where the package of Commonwealth and State laws, known as the National Firearms Agreement (NFA) may have had some impact was on the rate of suicide, but the study said the evidence was not clear and any reductions attributable to the new gun rules were slight.

"Homicide patterns (firearm and non-firearm) were not influenced by the NFA, the conclusion being that the gun buyback and restrictive legislative changes had no influence on firearm homicide in Australia," the study says. . . .

The significance of the article was not who had written it but the fact it had been published in a respected journal after the regular rigorous process of being peer reviewed, she said.

Politicians had assumed tighter gun laws would cut off the supply of guns to would-be criminals and that homicide rates would fall as a result, the study said. But more than 90 per cent of firearms used to commit homicide were not registered, their users were not licensed and they had been unaffected by the firearms agreement.

Which is, of course, exactly what gun-rights groups predicted.


Everyone is speculating about which party will control Congress after next month's voting. But we may not know for a while. We could see either party pursue the kind of lawsuits that Al Gore unleashed in Florida in 2000 and contest any number of tight races that are within the "margin of litigation." Recounts and even seating challenges in Congress could stretch on for weeks--another endless election. "We're waiting for the day that pols can cut out the middleman and settle all elections in court," jokes the political newsletter Hotline.

He also offers a lengthy roundup of election problems. And you can hear our podcast interview with Fund on election fraud here.

OKAY, so I revealed my vote earlier. Now it's time for you to weigh in on how you think the 2006 elections should go. Remember, this is how they should go, not a prediction of how they will go. That's a question for a separate poll.

How would you like the 2006 Congressional elections to turn out?
Republicans keep both houses
Republicans keep one, Democrats win another
Democrats win both houses
Free polls from

UPDATE: Okay, with about 6800 votes so far, we've got 74% in favor of Republicans keeping both houses, 17% in favor of the Dems taking one house, and 9% in favor of Dems taking both houses. Plus, a complaint about survey design from reader Brian Gates:

We should have as many choices as you gave yourself - could you amend the poll to allow write-ins for Frank J? A Congress with only him would be better than any of the other choices you list, and I don't mean that as an endorsement of Frank.

It's hard to argue, in light of recent events.

The Glenn and Helen Show: Talking Guns and Politics with Dave Kopel

Guns and gun control are a big issue as the 2006 elections loom. We talked with Dave Kopel, author of The Samurai, the Mountie, and the Cowboy: Should America Adopt the Gun Controls of Other Democracies?, Guns: Who Should Have Them?, and Gun Control and Gun Rights: A Reader and Guide. He's also research director at the Independence Institute, and a regular blogger at The Volokh Conspiracy. (He's also got a page with lots of gun information at

Dave talks with us about violence and nonviolence, whether legalizing marijuana would cut down on gun crime, ways to prevent school shootings, questions of whether the right to keep and bear arms should be part of international law, and the likely impact of gun rights issues on the 2006 elections, and vice versa. Plus, discussion of which Second Amendment writers are "hotties."

You can listen directly -- no downloading needed -- by going here and clicking on the gray Flash player. Or you can download the file directly right here. You can get a lo-fi version for dialup by going here and selecting "lofi," and you can subscribe via iTunes by going here. Show archives and updates can be found at

This podcast is brought to you by If you buy a Volvo, tell 'em it's all because of this show!

TOM ELIA looks at this day in history.

Plus, here's some somewhat more recent history.

LARRY LESSIG ON NET NEUTRALITY: "It’s funny, I hadn’t realized I was a Google tool."

Me neither. I mean, wouldn't it pay better?

UPDATE: Matt Sherman responds to Lessig.

NO LOSS OF PERSPECTIVE HERE: "Gay Republicans are as bad as Nazi collaborators." Mike Godwin, call your office!

UPDATE: Plus, a post on libertarians and bestiality. I'm mentioned, but no Nazi analogies appear.

CLIFF MAY: "What would Ernie Pyle or any other great war correspondent of the past think of CNN’s decision to air video showing snipers targeting U.S. troops in Iraq?"


Remember when the temporary success of Geena Davis' Commander-in-Chief was said to pave the way for a Hillary Clinton presidency by getting voters accustomed to a competent female chief executive? Isn't it possible that--if Pelosi assumes the Speakership and flops as badly as some Dems fear--she'll perform an opposite function, namely souring the voters on the idea of a female executive? Two-years worth of saccharine robotic liberal pollster phrases about "America's children" can do that.

Kaus also finds this hilarious quote from Pelosi on her expected accession to the Speakers' chair: "The gavel of the speaker of the House is in the hands of special interests, and now it will be in the hands of America's children." Heh. Indeed.

BARACK OBAMA is considering a run for the Presidency in 2008. Seems a bit early for him, but then I said that about Clinton in 1992.

Of course, this could all just be a clever plan to promote his new book, -- and if so, judging by the Amazon rank, it's working!


In the midst of the campaign month of October came the news last week that the population of the United States has passed the 300 million mark. There's a sharp contrast between the negativity of the political climate and the robustness of our demographic increase -- we were at 200 million in 1967, less than four decades ago.

Then, as now, Americans were in a negative mood, but had much more to be depressed about. We were then mired in a war that produced more than 20 times the number of American deaths as the conflict in Iraq has so far. We were in the midst of the Cold War, with its ever-present threat of nuclear annihilation, and the bipartisan Cold War consensus was about to break down. Our cities were ablaze in race riots, and our economy was about to enter an era of stagflation -- low growth and high inflation.

Now, most things are demonstrably better. As I noted last summer, levels of warfare around the world have reached a historic low, so that even the loss of one American life in Iraq can land on the front page. The world economy is growing as never before, with millions of people rising out of poverty every year. The American economy continues to surge ahead.

So why are people so cranky? He offers some thoughts, which mesh interestingly with Josh Manchester's, below.

NOAH SHACHTMAN reports on wearable electronics and the U.S. military.

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS UPDATE: Josh Manchester has thoughts on the wisdom of crowds.

October 22, 2006

EXPANDING THE PANAMA CANAL: Publius looks at what's going on.

MORE ON THE NEW YORK TIMES' SWIFT FLIPFLOP, from Tom Maguire ("Toothpaste, meet tube") and Bill Quick: "This is an especially telling admission from the Times 'ombudsman,' who, in theory at least, is supposed to be the most objective journalist in the Times organization. But a 'vicious criticism' (what? did GWB forget to call you the world's greatest newspaper?) is enough to warp your objectivity enough to print a story that did major damage to the safety and security of the United States?"

Eugene Volokh, meanwhile, is trying to figure out what was so "vicious."

UPDATE: "The Devil made me do it!"

ANOTHER UPDATE: Some answers to Eugene's question.

THE INSTAWIFE IS UNIMPRESSED with the Paul McCartney / Heather Mills story. I'm inclined to be very skeptical about charges of abuse that suddenly appear when the battle over property settlements heats up.

SORRY, I can't help, here.

UPDATE: It's not really relevant, but I'm linking this again anyway.

MORE RIOTS IN FRANCE: "In recent days police patrols in a number of towns across the country have been attacked by petrol bombs. 'This latest clash marks the progressive start of a repeat of the riots of November 2005,' the statement said, referring to the incident in Grigny."

UPDATE: On a more positive note, here's a report on the U.S. from the Christian Science Monitor:

The Islamist radicalism that inspired young Muslims to attack their own countries - in London, Madrid, and Bali - has not yielded similar incidents in the United States, at least so far.

"Home-grown" terror cells remain a concern of US law officers, who cite several disrupted plots since 9/11. But the suspects' unsophisticated planning and tiny numbers have led some security analysts to conclude that America, for all its imperfections, is not fertile ground for producing jihadist terrorists.

To understand why, experts point to people like Omar Jaber, an AmeriCorps volunteer; Tarek Radwan, a human rights advocate; and Hala Kotb, a consultant on Middle East affairs. They are the face of young Muslim-Americans today - educated, motivated, and integrated into society - and their voices help explain how the nation's history of inclusion has helped to defuse sparks of Islamist extremism.

"American society is more into the whole assimilation aspect of it," says New York-born Mr. Jaber. "In America, it's a lot easier to practice our religion without complications."

In a nation where mosques have sprung up alongside churches and synagogues, where Muslim women are free to wear the hijab (or not), and where education and job opportunities range from decent to good, the resentments that can breed extremism do not seem very evident in the Muslim community.

Let's hope this is true, and remains so.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A "permanent intifada" in France?

On a routine call, three unwitting police officers fell into a trap. A car darted out to block their path, and dozens of hooded youths surged out of the darkness to attack them with stones, bats and tear gas before fleeing. One officer was hospitalized, and no arrests made.

The recent ambush was emblematic of what some officers say has become a near-perpetual and increasingly violent conflict between police and gangs in tough, largely immigrant French neighborhoods that were the scene of a three-week paroxysm of rioting last year.

One small police union claims officers are facing a "permanent intifada." Police injuries have risen in the year since the wave of violence.

National police reported 2,458 cases of violence against officers in the first six months of the year, on pace to top the 4,246 cases recorded for all of 2005 and the 3,842 in 2004. Firefighters and rescue workers have also been targeted - and some now receive police escorts in such areas.

On Sunday, a band of about 30 youths, some wearing masks, forced passengers out of a bus in a southern Paris suburb in broad daylight Sunday, set it on fire, then stoned firefighters who came to the rescue, police said. No one was injured. Two people were arrested, one of them a 13-year-old, according to LCI television.

Sounds bad. (Via Dan Riehl, who thinks this means that France's accomodationist policy regarding Islamists isn't working).

THE NEW YORK TIMES does a flip-flop on the SWIFT program:

My July 2 column strongly supported The Times’s decision to publish its June 23 article on a once-secret banking-data surveillance program. After pondering for several months, I have decided I was off base. There were reasons to publish the controversial article, but they were slightly outweighed by two factors to which I gave too little emphasis. While it’s a close call now, as it was then, I don’t think the article should have been published.

Those two factors are really what bring me to this corrective commentary: the apparent legality of the program in the United States, and the absence of any evidence that anyone’s private data had actually been misused. I had mentioned both as being part of “the most substantial argument against running the story,” but that reference was relegated to the bottom of my column. . . .

I haven’t found any evidence in the intervening months that the surveillance program was illegal under United States laws. Although data-protection authorities in Europe have complained that the formerly secret program violated their rules on privacy, there have been no Times reports of legal action being taken. Data-protection rules are often stricter in Europe than in America, and have been a frequent source of friction.

Also, there still haven’t been any abuses of private data linked to the program.

So the New York Times damaged national security by tipping terrorists off to the existence and nature of a legal program that was not being abused. Remember that the next time they declare their own fitness to be trusted with national security decisions.

Michelle Malkin asks: "Why isn't this on the front page?"

BIZZYBLOG THINKS EARLY VOTING IS BAD FOR AMERICA: "People voting before Election Day are voting without the full knowledge of the candidates, especially how they perform (or fail to perform) under stress. Because of that, I think their numbers should be kept as small as possible." Hmm. Good point. On the other hand, early voting reduces the influence of last-minute hit jobs, which are usually bogus.

TRUDY SCHUETT is mourning the demise of Miracle Whip.

UPDATE: An email from a Kraft employee on this vital topic. Click "read more" to read it!

Read More ?

ANOTHER VIRGINIA POSTREL MOMENT: The Kodak EasyShare cameras are quite good -- I gave the InstaDaughter one for Christmas a couple of years ago -- but they're also kind of . . . ugly and bulbous. They give off that hapless American-manufacturer aura, kind of like most GM products.

But I saw a picture of this one in a magazine and it's much sleeker and more Leica-like in appearance. And poking around, I notice that most of the new Kodaks are better looking. That makes sense: Given that it doesn't cost anything to make products look good, why are so many of them ugly? Nice to see some people catching on -- and heck, even GM cars are improving.

UPDATE: Went looking at for a review, but this camera's too new. But they had a review for the similar V610 and they've noticed the same thing I did:

Gone are the days when Kodak only sold big, plastic (and dare I say ugly) digital cameras; the V610 is a real head-turner with beautiful detailing and a build quality to die for. The rear is dominated by a huge 2.8-inch screen, though there are a smattering of buttons down the left hand side - and the ubiquitous four-way controller on the right. The front of the camera is clean and simple, and looks a little unusual thanks to the twin lens arrangement (which when not in use is hidden under a brushed metal cover. At around 160g (5.6 oz) it is pretty heavy for such a small camera, adding to the impression the all-metal body gives of being built like a tank. The use of different surface textures and chrome accents gives the V610 a high quality 'designer' feel, and sitting with it in your hand it's hard to believe this little camera has the equivalent of a 38-380mm 10x zoom lens squeezed inside.

Of course, as the review also notes, big, bulbous cameras are easier to hold steady with one hand. But the camera that fits in your shirt pocket is a camera that you'll take with you, and a camera that you'll take with you gets more pictures than one that sits in a drawer. Plus, people just like stuff that looks and feels better. I remember my old Alesis mixing board was good, but its controls felt cheap -- like a kid's toy. The Mackie I use now (the Alesis suffered an unfortunate accident) isn't any better, really, but its controls feel better, so it's a pleasure to use.

DEATH BY A THOUSAND REGULATIONS: Jules Crittenden looks at what's happening to milblogs. He also talks about Matt Burden's warblog book.

U.N. ENVOY JAN PRONK has been kicked out of Sudan for blogging:

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ali al-Sadig said Pronk had until mid-day Wednesday to leave.

"The reason is the latest statements issued by Mr. Pronk on his Web site regarding severe criticism of the Sudanese Armed Forces and the fact that he said the government of Sudan is not implementing the Darfur peace agreement," al-Sadig added.

He said the Foreign Ministry met with Pronk on Sunday and had informed him of its decision.

Pronk has previously had problems with the government because of comments he published on his Web log The latest blog entry said Darfur rebels had beaten the army in two major battles in the last two months.

Here's the blog. I'm happy to hear that the government's doing badly, given that it's trying to accomplish a genocide.

Austin Bay: "He blogged the truth and the Sudan government now says 'goodbye.'"

GREG PACKER is back!